Thursday, 1 August 2019

CILIP Conference 2019, by Data Science student Na Li

I was so lucky to gain a bursary from the Information School to attend the UK CILIP Conference 2019. It was a great opportunity for me to meet professionals from information-related industries, as well as other students from the Information School. I got to chat with some fantastic people and made friends with other students.

The conference involved broad topics related to information and librarianship, such as Artificial Intelligence, Diversity and Data Behaviour, which allowed every attendee to find topics they were interested in. Attending different sessions of the conference sparked many new ideas and different ways of thinking regarding leadership skills needed by information professionals, which are so important for a future career. This blog will focus on what kind of skills recruiters are looking for from information professionals, based on three experts’ views.

According to Sally Connor, who is a senior analyst from PWC, it is vital to have strategic thinking and always ask yourself if the things you do can help business make money. To be specific, information technologies are updating so fast, so information professionals should keep their eyes open for new technologies. and applications of these technologies, and think thoroughly how industries might change in the future, then teach themselves how to catch the technology development. Apart from this, analysing the market to find opportunities is an important competence for employees because it is pivotal for the company to keep competitive and make money; so called 'commercial competency'. Such work can be highly supported by analysing data in the right way. And with data-driven decision-making playing a more important role in business, companies tend to look for people who have the ability to analyse data, visualise data and tell stories with data. Overall, no matter what you do, a question should always be asked by yourself in terms of working for a company, that is: whether what you bring has value which can be quantified to the business, such as how much time can be reduced or how much money saved?

In terms of recruitment, Richard Gaston (who has gone through many résumés and interviewed many people) reported that employers look for evidence of abilities they require. There are skills to be learned in knowing how to show this evidence. For example, when an interviewer asks a behaviour related question, a good way to answer it is telling a story which you experienced in a previous workplace: describing the situations, actions you made and the final impact. In this way you can also show your soft skills, like problem solving, ability to learn, collaboration with other people, which employers think are more important. As explained by Sally Connor, soft skills need more time and are harder to develop than hard skills, which can be taught and learnt quickly by almost everyone.
Furthermore, Simon Burton, Managing Director of CB Resourcing, mentioned another key skill which they hear from clients: that is building professional networks in varied ways, such as social media and the opportunities presented by professional bodies. On one hand, it shows your passion and curiosity about the sector of your expertise. At the same time, by communicating and sharing with other professionals, we can learn from each other as well as maintaining good relationships, then they will also share with you in the future, which is a win-win situation.

All these are important points from just one of sessions, giving very helpful tips for developing your career. I gained a lot from other sessions as well. Overall, attending the two days of the CILIP Conference was really a fruitful trip for me. I really appreciated the opportunity.

Na Li
MSc Data Science student

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